All week, I planned my marathon recap in my head. I would be so excited to share with everyone the PR I’d achieved and outline a few specific changes I made this year that I truly felt lead to that PR. But at the end of the day, you can’t plan life.
I have felt a number of emotions over the past 24 hours including, but surely not limited to, self doubt, anger, frustration, pain, sadness, powerful, dedicated, surprise, elated, and loved. I told Theodora today, while we were enjoying a post marathon pampering session that at the end of the day I truly am proud for finishing the marathon. There were more than a few moments, including the first time I saw Bo at mile 14 and when Amelia passed me at mile 11 when I thought that I’d actually not finish the race.
But, as I look back on the experience, I’m choosing to focus on the positive and toast the experience instead of finding myself frustrated and depressed.
The night before the marathon, Bo and I hosted Tina, Theodora, and Theodora’s mother for a small pasta dinner at our house. We didn’t want to stress with restaurant reservations so figured this was the best and easiest option.
I slept really well from 9:30pm until 3:30am when I woke up, worried I had overslept. After tossing and turning for an hour I woke up and spent 30 minutes stretching, foam rolling, and doing a post in hopes of putting my nerves at ease. I went back to sleep for an hour and finally woke up at 6:30, excited for the marathon.
Before I got dressed, I had a cup of coffee, small cup of cherry juice, and small piece of bread with peanut butter.
I got dressed and ready surprisingly quickly considering that I was getting ready to run 26.2 miles! Having everything organized and in a pile made things very easy and kept me from having to search for items last minute.
My marathon outfit for race day was as follows:
I hailed a cab, surprisingly easily, at 7:20 for the Staten Island Ferry where I planned to meet my other marathon friends.
Better known as the bathrobe posse, the six of us (Melissa Z, Tina, Theodora, Emily, Dori, and I) rode the ferry together to Staten Island and kept each other company until our 10:40 start. I was the only person who had run the marathon previously and loved putting their fears at bay by answering questions during our ferry ride. It was so much fun to enjoy this time with even more friends this year than last year.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about taking the ferry to Staten Island versus the buses. The views are wonderful, there is plenty of room, and it’s a true experience.
Once we arrived at the starting area we found a patch of grass large enough for our group and our robes and trash bags. We spent the next 45 minutes taking bathroom breaks, which were conveniently located 20 feet away from us, and chatting. We talked about everything and anything except the race itself until we heard the cannons blast and watched the 9:40 wave run over the Verrazano Bridge.
Around 10:15 they herded us into the corrals which meant it was the end of our group. We each went our separate ways, based on bib number, and spent the next few minutes getting to know foreign runners and chatting with strangers.
Randomly enough, Melissa and I found ourselves standing next to each other as we lined up at the start 15 minutes later. This certainly isn’t our best picture ever but you get the idea.
I was especially excited this year since I was able to run across the top of the Verrazano Bridge versus the lower level where I was last year. Little changes like this kept me excited for the marathon. After listening to New York, New York the cannon fire signaled the start of our wave. We easily crossed the starting line and headed over the bridge. I was already in awe of the city views but at the same time it seemed very far away!
Once we left the bridge and entered Brooklyn I remembered how much I loved this part of the course. The crowds were wild, the kids were abundant, people were hanging out of windows to cheer, and we were suddenly next to the 4:20 pace group. I telling myself to slow down but I loved running with Melissa. When we crossed the 10k at 1:05:05 I got a bit worried. I knew this was too fast a pace for me to sustain and I was feeling the pace in the arch of my foot and my shin. I started to try and slow us down but as we turned the corner we just kept reaching more jubilant fans. I asked Melissa if we could slow down as I needed to eventually get closer to my 11:00 minute goal pace. While she said “sure” I didn’t feel us slow much over the next few miles and by the 8 mile mark when Melissa turned for a picture, I moved to the side so we could part ways. She looked powerful and happy while I wasn’t feeling my strongest.
At this point, I told myself to focus forward and on the crowds that I missed last year since I wore my headphones for the entire marathon last year. I found my pace slowing rapidly, or so I thought, and when I Amelia passed around mile 12, I didn’t really think I’d finish the marathon. She asked how I was feeling and I looked at her and said “horribly, I think I’m dropping out.” She was awesome and sweetly told me to calm down, focus on my breathing, and just put one foot in front of the other. It killed me to see her pass as I knew we had trained similarly but I knew I couldn’t get too negative this early.
I texted Bo to let him know I was running behind and that I need salt, desperately. Even though I had sipped my Camelback and taken 4 shot blocks my system felt completely depleted. At this same point I quite literally ran into my friend Elizabeth who was cheering in Brooklyn. She asked what I needed and all I said was a hug before I kept going. I insisted that Bo was bringing salt to mile 14 along with some water.
The next three miles are a complete blur. I remember doing my best to jog over the Pulaski Bridge, knowing that Bo was only a mile away, but felt weak and found myself needing to walk after each 3/4 of a mile.
At one point, around mile 12 I tweeted that I didn’t think I’d finish and that this was my hardest run ever. Some people have very strong feelings against using phones during a race, much less a marathon, but let me tell you, the messages I received every time my phone vibrated in my pouch kept me moving.
I was worried that I’d miss Bo so immediately texted him as I entered Long Island City, only to realize he was right in front of me.
He gave me a huge hug, made me take salt tequila style, and told me I was finishing whether I wanted to or not. I asked him to refill my Camelback since I knew it must be empty by now. He unzipped it only to yell that it was almost full. “You have to drink more, what have you been doing out there? Sipping?” Somehow, even though I’d been taking sips each mile, I hadn’t been drinking as much as I thought. When you grab cups at stations you’re forced to gulp which often makes you drink more than when you have your own supply. I cried and told him I was going to miss my goal and how sorry I was. He looked at me and said that my only goal was to finish and that I needed to get my ass moving.
This little pep talk helped me keep moving over into Manhattan where I knew I’d see him, my manager, and my personal trainer. My goal for the next four miles, until I saw him again, was to jog every 3/4 mile and power walk the 1/4 mile. I kept breathing, turned on my music, and did my best to power through. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that I got my period on Saturday morning. I wasn’t sure what to do or how it would affect my marathon. Unfortunately at this point I started to feel both stomach cramps and leg cramps. Even after taking the salt and having a few more shot blocks my system still felt empty and drained.
I took my headphones off so I could enjoy the “wall of sound” and focus on moving towards Bo, at 77th and 1st.
The fans were even better than last year. I never once felt that the crowds had thinned even though I was definitely hitting first avenue later this year than last year. People screamed my name, powered me to move faster, and at one point asked me if I was a professional power walker. As discouraging as it was at points, I knew that I could finish the marathon if I kept up my routine of alternating running and walking. I did my best to run to Bo at 77th, got a quick kiss and powered on to 119th where my trainer Lauren, was waiting for me.
Seeing her smiling face was the best thing that happened to me yesterday during the race. She was like sunlight, greeting me at the end of 1st Avenue. She forced me to take another gel packet, helped me realize that I could still finish in under 5:30, and provided some powerful affirmations about my dedication and strength. Don’t get me wrong, I know that yesterday wasn’t my proudest moment in running history but it takes dedication to do a walk/run combination for over 10 miles of a marathon.
Harlem and especially Bronx were better than I remembered with cheer stations everywhere including a radio station which was blasting Ludacris so loud that I heard them almost a half mile away! I loved the enthusiasm this borough showed for the marathon and how many people came out with their entire families to cheer on the crazy runners. While First Avenue is amazing, it’s more like one giant drunk frat party. The Bronx was a family affair providing runners the willpower they need to embark on the final 10k. Even though I felt surging pain with every step in my left leg, I kept moving. I knew that the cramps in my leg nor my arch could get much worst if I just kept moving. The faster I moved the the sooner I’d be done.
I passed the Lululemon Cheer Squad and Caitlin around mile 22 giving her a quick hug and screaming that I was going to finish. At this point I had no doubt that I would finish I just didn’t know how quickly I could manage to make it down to Central Park.
Just as I passed these lovely ladies, I saw the 5:30 pace group approaching. This was the best thing that could have ever happened. I treated them like my rabbit for the rest of the race. I made it my personal goal to stay at least a few steps ahead of them whether it meant running for short jaunts or power walking.
As I headed towards the park I saw a bright yellow shirt in front of me that looked very familiar. I swore it was Shannon but doubted that she’d be finishing around this time after her strong training. But, as I paired the long blonde ponytail with the Livestrong shirt I knew it had to be here. I sprinted ahead and grabbed her shoulders in elation. From that point on, we were inseparable. She was about to complete her first marathon and I had full intention of pacing her to the finish. she was exhausted and said it was the hardest thing she’d ever done. We stayed together, running in tandem, promising to do our best to only walk at the water stations. I told her that she had two people to watch for, my manager and Bo. She was excited to know that we had an audience and for the last three miles I enjoyed every moment of the race.
My manager caught this video of us around mile 24, as we headed through Central Park.
I had gone from fighting fatigue, muscle cramps, and fatigue by myself to finishing the last few miles of the marathon with an amazing friend. We kept telling each other that we were going to finish no matter what.
With less than a mile left, we passed Bo and our amazing friends, Mike & Liz, at 59th Street. They were screaming so loud that missing them wasn’t possible. They knew that I was in rough shape, hence their inspirational sign. Seeing them there motivated me to actually sprint a few steps towards them, feeling stronger than I’d felt in 10 miles.
Minutes later, Shannon and I crossed the finish line hand in hand, in front of the 5:30 pace group!
At this moment, we felt nothing but pride and elation. Some people may not consider completing a marathon in 5:29 an accomplishment but I do. I believe that pushing and persevering through anything makes you a stronger person and teaches you something about yourself. After yesterday, I realize that I have a strength and stubborn will I never knew. Even though I said I was going to quit and felt severe pain for many of the miles I pushed through. I never felt I was at risk of breaking or tearing anything.
Minutes after finishing, while we were in the baggage line, I started to feel nauseous. I kept teetering side to side and then putting my head between my legs. When I stood up Shannon asked me kindly to go to the medical tent. Being stubborn, I said I was fine. But, a few moments later I quickly ran towards the medical tent after screaming Bo’s phone number to Shannon.
Unfortunately for the poor volunteer, I vomited four times before they could get me in a wheelchair and send me over to the tent. At some point I passed out and woke up with an IV in me, a PT working on my left leg as I lay in a cot. For the next 30 minutes the doctor explained that I appeared to be severely dehydrated based on my muscles and the vomiting. I still can’t pinpoint what caused the muscle cramps, arch pain, and dehydration since except for the fact that I barely had any fluids for the first 10 miles and still, at the end of the race, found that my Camel Bak wasn’t empty. I was having a hard time keeping fuel down towards the end, which is something I never experienced last year.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about the volunteers who worked in the medical tent yesterday. They were so friendly and helpful that it made the overall experience far more bearable. The only frustration I had was that they didn’t use the emergency information we provided to call spouses or contacts. Luckily, Shannon called Bo so he was already on his way to the medical tent by the time I was released. We headed over to Jack Rabbit before taking the subway home.
When we got home I tried to take a bath but kept dry heaving and felt nauseous still. The doctors warned that I’d probably feel the affects of the dehydration until the morning. Therefore, per my mom’s recommendation, I did my best to eat some Saltines and sip on Gatorade and Ginger Ale last night while lying in bed. I slept 13 hours last night, waking up to find myself feeling a bit wonky but far better than yesterday.
Around 10am I was finally able to keep down solid food, the first time in 24 hours.
I spent the rest of today working from home during the morning and then enjoying an afternoon of pampering with Theodora.
I won’t stop thinking about yesterday’s marathon for quite a while. I was hoping for a 4:50 finish and ended with a 5:29. I figured that even if the wheels came off I could beat last year’s 5:06, even if only by seconds. That didn’t happen by any means. I told more than one person that I didn’t want to run another marathon during yesterday’s race and recovery. If you mention my next marathon to me today all I feel is pain in my left leg. Yet, my heart isn’t ready to give up. I know that I have a sub 5 marathon inside of me. I just don’t know whether I’m ready to put my husband, family, and friends through another attempt just yet.
I really can’t thank each and every one of you for your kind phone calls, emails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook messages. You truly are the reason I pushed through yesterday even when I felt that my shin and arch could take no more pain.